During the ten years from 1987 to 1997 that he was Director of the Royal National Theatre, Richard Eyre kept a diary - a record that disarmingly captured a life at the heart of British cultural and political affairs. The powerful and the famous inevitably strut and fret upon its pages, but National Service is also a moving personal journey, charted faithfully by a fiercely self-aware and frequently self-doubting individual. The job of grappling with a giant three-headed monster as complex as the Royal National Theatre is laid before us. So are good gossip, brilliant insights into personalities and relationships and a sense of the ridiculous, which Eyre is powerless to suppress. Like other consummate diarists such as Alan Clark and Kenneth Tynan, Richard Eyre has a voice and point of view that jolt the reader into fresh understanding - and are instantly compelling.

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